FAQ – Rural
Is there a minimum speed for a car towing a caravan on a country lane?
No, although the Highway Code makes clear you should not hold up a long queue of traffic if you are driving a large or slow-moving vehicle.
Is it OK to exceed the speed limit in order to overtake briskly and efficiently, as long as I return to within the speed limit when the manoeuvre is complete?
The best advice here is that, if you can’t overtake efficiently while staying within the legal speed limit, then you shouldn’t be overtaking. Some argue that the less time you spend on the ‘wrong side of the road’, the better, but no dispensation in law exists for temporarily exceeding the limit, I’m afraid.
What factors can affect my stopping distances on country roads?
First, the road surface may be poor or covered in mud, leaves, water, oil, ice – or a mix of all! Next, your own skills determine the time it takes you to react to a hazard. If you’re tired, or simply not expecting to take avoiding action, then you won’t be able to slow down or stop as quickly. Last, if you have defective tyres or worn brake pads, then this could affect your stopping distance on a country road, as on any other road surfaces.
Q – How was I detected and can I be sure that the equipment was working properly?
A- Vehicles exceeding the speed limit can be detected in a number of ways but the Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership uses the following equipment:
- Static Gatsometer (GATSO) Cameras (unmanned).
- LTI 20/20 TS/M Speedscope Laser Speed Measurement Device (manned).
Drivers who do not obey red traffic light signals can be detected by the following:
- Static GATSO Cameras (unmanned).
- Static Traffiphot red light Cameras (unmanned).
All equipment is tested and operated in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions on every occasion that it is used. A calibration certificate in respect of each detection device is renewed annually in accordance with Home Office regulations.
Q – What is the process after I have been caught speeding?
A – A Notice of Intended Prosecution must be sent to the last known address of the Keeper registered at the DVLA within 14 days of the detection of the alleged offence. This Notice must specify the nature of the alleged offence and the time and place where it is alleged to have been committed. Errors in details of the alleged offence, time or place, will not automatically render the Notice invalid. If you dispute the details on your Notice you must request a court hearing.
The recipient of a Notice of Intended Prosecution has a legal obligation to respond to the Notice within 28 days in one of the following ways –
If the addressee was the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence:
- By completing the form, admitting to being the driver and returning it to the address shown. In most cases the driver will then be sent a Conditional Offer of a Fixed Penalty, which subject to certain provisions being met, will enable the matter to be concluded by payment of a fixed penalty (currently £100) and an endorsement of three penalty points on the Driving Licence.
If the addressee was not the owner or keeper of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence:
- By nominating another person as the new or previous keeper of the vehicle. Details must include the person’s name and address.
If the addressee was the owner/keeper, but not the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence:
- By nominating another person as the driver. Details must include the person’s name and address.
In certain circumstances, the driver of the vehicle may be given the opportunity to attend an educational course. Should they choose to accept this offer, they will not incur a fine or driving license penalty points. They will however be required to pay for their place on the course, currently £90.
Q- What if I am unable to identify the driver?
A – As the registered keeper/owner/ hirer /nominated driver of the vehicle you are legally obliged to supply details of the actual driver on the date of the alleged offence. Failure to supply these details may render you liable for prosecution under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Only a Court of Law can decide if failure to identify a driver is reasonable.
Q – What if the driver has left the country?
A – In this instance you are required to provide written confirmation that the driver is now abroad for an indefinite period. Provide a copy of their licence along with valid insurance documents and a letter stating from them that they were driving. Appropriate action will then be taken by the office, of which you will be informed.
Q – What happens if my driving licence is at the DVLA, or has been lost/stolen?
A – If your licence is at the DVLA, is lost or has been stolen, please telephone the Camera Enforcement Unit immediately on 01452 303317. If your licence has been stolen you will need to quote a crime reference number. If necessary, prosecution can be suspended for a short period of time for the licence to be renewed. Failure to contact the unit may result in summons proceedings being initiated.
Q – What happens if I spot a mistake on the notice?
Errors in date, time, vehicle registration number or speed, which are caused through clerical error, will not necessarily invalidate the Notice. Any errors should be brought to the attention of the Camera Enforcement Unit immediately – telephone 01452 303317.
Q – What happens if I do not have a UK driving licence (i.e. my licence was not issued by the DVLA at Swansea)?
A – The Camera Enforcement Unit is unable to accept any non-EU licence. This is because the fixed penalty procedure is dependant on the surrender of a driving licence that can be endorsed with the appropriate number of penalty points.
A non-EU licence cannot be endorsed and therefore does not meet the criteria specified by the fixed penalty procedure. In such circumstances, the option to deal with the offence by way of fixed penalty will be withdrawn and prosecution will proceed by way of a summons at the local court. The court will be advised that had you been able to, you would have complied with the conditions of the fixed penalty. It is also requested that the court takes this into consideration when setting the fine.
Drivers who are unable to comply for this reason are not being penalised, they are merely being dealt with through an alternative procedure.
Q – Can I plead mitigation in this matter?
A – Mitigation cannot be considered in the Conditional Offer process, however you have the right to request a court hearing, where you will be able to bring any mitigation or challenge to the magistrates’ attention. The magistrates will then adjudicate and determine the level of any fine and the number of penalty points to be awarded. Please note that the magistrates have the right to increase the fine beyond the amount of the fixed penalty and to award more than three points on the licence. You may also incur costs.
Q – Can I pay a higher fine and not have points endorsed on my licence?
A – No. The endorsement of a driver’s licence with a minimum of three penalty points is mandatory for this offence. Points will, therefore, be endorsed on your licence if you either plead guilty or are found guilty at court, or if the matter is concluded within the Conditional Offer procedure.